Back In The Saddle

Your generosity gave Cashlynn a second chance

Seven-year-old Cashlynn woke up on Father’s Day morning, excited for a day of horse riding with her sisters and father, Mike.

“She was so excited she didn’t even want to eat breakfast. She quickly drank a glass of orange juice and was on her way outside,” said Mike. “We were riding for a few minutes when the unexpected happened.”

Cashlynn’s horse stepped into a hole and lost balance. A rope on the saddle broke, causing the saddle to slip to the side.

“Cashlynn fell off her horse and rolled, but was fine,” Mike said. “Then I heard my oldest daughter scream. I turned around and saw that the belly strap of the horse went into its flanks, causing the horse to kick while Cashlynn was still on the ground. It kicked the right side of her head.”

The kick fractured Cashlynn’s orbital and temporal bones, and caused a traumatic brain injury and a severe laceration to her right ear. Cashlynn’s grandfather called 9-1-1. She was airlifted from Devine, Texas to San Antonio, where she received life-saving surgery.

“When she came to our rehabilitation unit two weeks later, Cashlynn had very severe cognitive and communication impairments,” said Dr. Nicholas Fleming, assistant professor of pediatric rehabilitation medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “She was walking with some assistance from her father, but still had weakness, and because of the cognitive deficits and brain injury, she was agitated. She also had some personality changes, problems swallowing, and hearing difficulties
on the right side.”

“Cashlynn underwent physical, occupational, and speech therapy. She was basically back to a baby state,” Cashlynn’s mother, Caroline, added. “From walking, to potty training, to speaking and re-learning how to brush her teeth, we had to start all over.”

In just a few weeks, Cashlynn made a miraculous recovery.

“We were amazed,” said Mike. “At one point, we weren’t even sure our little girl was going to survive, but after just a few weeks, she was making unbelievable progress. The therapists at The Children’s Hospital were incredible – she warmed up to them quickly. We could see that they genuinely cared about Cashlynn and our family; we were grateful to have that kind of care.”

Cashlynn was regaining her balance and motor functions. Her cognitive skills, including communicating, and swallowing, improved drastically. She was able to return to a regular diet, and was gaining the strength to walk more independently.

“She had a fighting spirit and refused to give up,” said Caroline. “She did everything she had to do to recover and go home; but she didn’t want to go home until she could walk on her own – and she did.”

Cashlynn was discharged on July 19. She still sees occupational and physical therapists and will have check-ups at The Children’s Hospital every six months. She will never regain hearing in her right ear, and her left cheek is slightly paralyzed, but the “little firecracker” continues to get stronger.

“We can’t believe it has only been four months since her injury,” Caroline said. “Cashlynn walks and runs and is doing cartwheels again. She loves the outdoors and is slowing getting back into horse riding. She has a slight limp, but is otherwise happy and healthy, thanks to the incredible care we received at The Children’s Hospital. We’re so grateful to have our little girl back in the saddle – there’s nothing she can’t do.”

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Our specialists are committed to serving and providing the best possible care – body, mind, and spirit - for our children and their families. We believe CHRISTUS Children’s is the best place for every child in need of medical care and we prove that every day, through every nurse, every child life specialist, every staff member. One of the best ways to highlight this care is to share incredible stories from our patients and their family members. It’s a way you can help us continue to bring hope and healing to inspire others. If you’re a current or former patient, a loved one, a caregiver, or friend, we would love to hear about your healing journey at CHRISTUS Children’s.

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